Local Groups

There are currently 4 Local Groups,

The following gives more details and latest reports from each group

MIDLANDS Group (meets at a variety of locations across the East Midlands)
Next meeting - 20 October 2018 at 11am

Latest meeting report

The meeting started with a non-musical mechanical object, this being a vintage tinplate toy by Lehmann of Germany.  The ‘Tut-tut’ is a particularly collectible toy comprising a man driving a car whilst blowing his trumpet, and dates from 1903.  The car moves erratically along, steering this way and that whilst the man blows his trumpet. Two Polyphons, were demonstrated, both playing 11½” discs, but sounding completely different, showing the difference between the single and double comb models.

A rare 4½” Symphonion manivelle was demonstrated which played a 20 note disc.  These looked similar to the more usual 30 note discs used by the similar model, often found as part of the Symphonion carriage clock, but obviously are not interchangeable. Two larger cylinder boxes were played, the first a sublime harmony box by Conchon with an 11” cylinder.  It plays six operatic tunes, including La Traviata and Carmen, then a Nicole Freres with a 13” cylinder playing eight operatic tunes.   It plays favourites from Verdi, Bellini, Rossini and Gounod. Our host demonstrated his Hupfeld Helios orchestrion, which he has spent the last three years working on.  This was bought from a guest house in Bavaria, where it was installed new, sometime around 1920. Other instruments in the collection were also played.

TEME VALLEY WINDERS (Based in Worcestershire but also covering surrounding areas)
Next meeting is the Christmas Meeting on 1 December 2018 at 11:00 a.m.

Latest meeting report

Several cylinder boxes were demonstrated including a “Super” mandolin box. The “Super” identity was defined by Anthony Bulleid as being mandolin boxes with groups of at least 8 teeth tuned to the same note enabling the note to be sustained for as long as required. The box demonstrated had groups of 9, 8, 7 and less and played 4 tunes on 186 teeth. Another cylinder box had an unusual speed governor which was circular with 3 vanes. A 20th century Reuge item was shown which has two dancing dolls which twirl to the music. This effect is achieved by the dolls being lifted up and down by the mechanism, and twirling because of their uneven leg lengths, a frequently found Swiss innovation.

An interesting Jungens musical clock was shown which had a small Symphonion disc playing movement mounted vertically below the clock. These clocks usually have the movement mounted horizontally under a lid at the top. Aspects of the clock also indicate that it may have originally been lever wound but later changed to key wind.

A large singing bird in a cage which was undergoing restoration was shown enabling everyone to see the (now working) mechanism for the song, as well as the original feathering of the bird which was awaiting new feathers. A nightingale box was also demonstrated (these are plain boxes which play the song of a nightingale). Music was also provided by piano rolls during the day.

WESSEX (Hampshire and surrounding area)

Next Meeting: Sunday 7th October 2018

Venue: Glibert Rooms, Twyford, Berks, SO21 1QY

Doors open just after 10.00 for refreshments, etc.  Event 10:30 - 4:00 p.m.

Once again we are expecting about 20 members and guests for a fun day of looking at, listening to and talking about mechanical music, with the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones. Bring your own packed lunch, and anything you wish to show/talk about.

Further information from: info@mbsgb.org.uk

Latest meeting report

The suggested topic for the day was ‘early music.’ This was featured on a fine Nicole 12 air, two-per-turn ‘oratorio’ box, and included an exceptionally fine arrangement of the Hailstone Chorus; a four-air piano forte Nicole Frères ‘sacred airs’ box, and a piece from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro on a Paillard mandolin box. (This last box is the one playing on the ‘Home’ page of the MBSGB website.)

Other featured cylinder boxes include a fine example of a Nicole Frères cylinder box in a walnut case, with the comb stamped ‘F. Nicole’ and with the serial number 22165. This suggests that surplus François Nicole combs were being used by other makers after he ceased production of boxes. Another unusual feature was the tune sheet, which appeared to be the box’s original sheet, but had all the appearance of belonging to Lecoultre rather than Nicole. Also an ‘alternate tip’ Paillard, playing 10 airs of a very random selection of tunes popular from throughout the 19th century.

Disc musical boxes presented were an exquisitely sounding 13 ½ inch Orpheneon, a Kalliope 7 5/8 inch with bells (demonstrated with and without the bells engaged), a small Celesta and a 15 ½ inch Regina.  By way of contrast, a 24 note street harmonium (reed barrel organ) was also demonstrated and discussed. As usual, there was a lot of catching up with friends and exchanging of ideas during the refreshment breaks.

Meetings held at:  
St. Albans Organ Theatre/Museum, 320 Camp Road, St. Albans, Herts AL1 5PE 
Next meeting - 22nd September 2018 at a private venue. Please book early as places are limited. Details from  info@mbsgb.org.uk.

Latest Meeting Report - April 2018 -St Albans Organ Museum

The morning started with members playing the instruments they had brought along. Roger  demonstrated a 16-note Amorette organette with revolving dolls from the Cotton Museum. We also heard a 17-note Aurephone which had an unusual swell shutter which was hinged outwards, a Ducommun-Girod 9½ inch overture cylinder musical box, an 8-inch Polyphon, a 26-note John Smith Universal built and demonstrated by Terry. We saw a small keywind cylinder musical box a complete replacement case and and an unusual Edelweiss 12 inch duplex comb disc musical box. 

After a one-hour lunch break for viewing instruments, items for sale and catching up with new and old friends we were given a tour of the museum collection ably guided by David who first became involved with the museum when a young teenager. The talk was informative and included the history of this long-standing collection started by Charles Hart in the 1960s and opened to the public since then. Andrew Smith played the automatic Dance Organs and also Peter Allen (one of the trustees of the organ theatre) played the Steinway Duo-Art Piano and the Welte (Red rolls) keyboardless Piano. We heard the Mills Violano. The 92 key Decap "Jeanneke" had been restored only 18 month ago and was working on a higher pressure and was therefore louder than previously. The largest organ "England's Pride" (another organ built by Decap) has 121 keys including a second counter melody section which allows for additional musical effects in the arrangements, ideal for a wider range of music including classical arrangements. These were interspersed with the quieter instruments such as a cylinder musical box, a smokers cabinet 9 inch Britannia and a table-top 12 inch Britannia. A 15½ Polyphon in a very late case from c.1905 with duplex combs and the serial number 16 played some new and old discs. A Celestina 20-note organette played a Music Hall selection arranged by the late Mel Colbrooke